RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 43 Number 2 Article 5
December 2006

Tatham Wife Hole

21st October 2006

Team: Paul Thomas, Roy Breakell, Mark Middleton

Tatham Wife Hole was new to all three of us so on meeting a good look at the book was needed before we set off. After a long wander over the lower plateau of Ingleborough we found it. (This one is a good walk from the car).

Paul went first and rigged, then Roy who hadn't been caving for a while next so I could keep an eye on him. (He said his SRT was a bit rusty.) Roy was right: on the first pitch he pressed the handle on his Stop without holding any rope, which he did quite unexpectedly. The jolt that followed certainly sharpened him up, but he was doing fine, and at 68 years young, all credit.

Water levels in Tatty Wife were a little higher due to recent rains so the waterfalls were thundering and, for me, this turned out to be one of the most active caves I've done so far, and proved great experience.

I had noted earlier on the survey it said 'duck', a term which I had hoped referred to a wild foul shaped formation, but really I sensed it was something more horrid. Oh, the beauty of being new to caving, you just never know what delight awaits you round the next boulder. I saw the duck and felt a chicken, "well it's all good experience" I thought again. As it happened, it wasn't too bad, and we all plodded on and down the final pitch.

The last section saw us crawling in a watery low passage. "The sump's along here somewhere" Paul said, "Oh, this is the sump", and back we went.

Paul and Roy went ahead as Roy could get a good start on the pitches. I de-rigged and packed the bag which by now was feeling more like a ball and chain with me the prisoner trying to escape. (I'm not really a moaning sod.) I did have bit of a struggle with it at one point though as it got jammed in a rift. Paul heard the swearing so had come back to see if I was OK, and just as he had popped back through the duck I shouted "I'm free" - he was so pleased.

Coming back under the duck for me proved a little more challenging; the angle seemed different or there was more water in it, I'm not sure, but I was half way through and my face was under and I drew breath, or in this case water. I backed out quick and with some kind encouragement from Paul I managed it the second time on my back - Glug Glug.

The next pitch was free climbable with a self line and we headed out pretty quick from here.

We all enjoyed what is a really good pot. It had some nice formations and navigations was easy - just follow the water. The pitches were short and deviations kept us fairly dry. Four hours we were out in total, I think. So the trip went without incident until Roy tripped somersaulted just before the car - he was OK though.

I was particularly glad to do such an active cave and told Paul that I was doing White Scar tomorrow. "Is that at all wet" I asked. "Can you swim?" he said. Oh well, that's a whole different report. Glug glug!

Mark Middleton

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